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Summary: SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully by Jane McGonigal

“When we play a game, we volunteer to be challenged. No one forces us to try to solve a game’s puzzles, or defeat another team, or reach a certain score. Because we are fully in control of whether we accept a game’s challenge, we don’t experience anxiety or depression when we play— despite the very real possibility of loss or defeat. Our primary experience is of agency, not of threat.” – Jane McGonigal

4 steps to develop a ‘gameful’ mindset at work:

Book Summary: SuperBetter - The Power of Living Gamefully

Embark on a quest of self-efficacy

“Self-efficacy means having confidence in the concrete skills and abilities required to solve specific problems or achieve particular goals. It is usually context-specific: you might have high self-efficacy at work but low selfefficacy about public speaking or losing weight. Self-efficacy is the crucial difference between having lots of motivation but failing to follow through, and successfully converting motivation into consistent and effective action. With high self-efficacy, you are more likely to take actions that help you reach your goals, even if those actions are difficult or painful. You also engage with difficult problems longer, without giving up. But with low self-efficacy, no matter how motivated you are, you’re less likely to take positive action— because you lack belief in your ability to make a difference in your own life.” – Jane McGonigal

To build you self-efficacy, seek out and complete quests – simple, daily actions that get you closer to reaching a bigger goal. Just like a hero in a video game, you can use each quest as an opportunity to gain experience points and develop new skills. These experience points (XP) give you the confidence to take on larger and larger quests.

Keep score

“Keeping score will highlight your progress …and to get a deeper understanding of your own play. This has been true of games as long as humans have played them. In fact, my favorite argument in favor of personal scorekeeping was written over one hundred years ago, in a 1914 issue of Baseball Magazine. “The Pleasure and Profit of Keeping Score” was an editorial that strongly encouraged baseball fans to fill out their own scorecards during professional games. Track every run, hit, and error, it argued, in order to better understand, remember, and enjoy the game:

Most spectators watch a great play with an interest, which, however intense, is forgotten in the thriller of the next inning. They leave the grounds with a hazy idea of a rather enjoyable afternoon, whose main features are scarce refreshed by reading press accounts of them some hours later. Keeping score remedies all this. It burns the play into memory. It greatly increases the spectator’s knowledge of the game. . . . And, best of all, it is a pleasure in itself.” – Jane McGonigal

Keep track of the experience points that you gain throughout the day (i.e. the relative difficulty of the tasks that you complete). For example, journal in the morning: 10XP, read 10 pages of a book: 12 XP, draft a proposal: 25 XP (XP = experience points).

Recruit allies

“Having social support makes it easier for us to achieve our goals. It’s not just that our friends and family help us directly by offering their time, advice, or resources. Medical research shows that our bodies respond to social support in dramatic ways, getting stronger and more resilient every time someone helps us.” – Jane McGonigal

Call a co-worker to ask for help. Ask a friend to join you at a coffee shop to brainstorm ideas for your next project. Tell your spouse about the challenges you’re facing at work.

Search for power-ups

Examples of Power-ups: “Look out a window for thirty seconds (mental). Hold my husband’s hand for six seconds (social). Eat ten walnuts, because they’re good for my brain (physical). Send a text message to my mom (social). Listen to a song from one of my favorite Bollywood movies (mental). Do ten push-ups even if I’m exhausted (physical).” – Jane McGonigal

“You are stronger than you know. You are surrounded by potential allies. You are the hero of your own story.” – Jane McGonigal


“SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully” by Jane McGonigal is a groundbreaking book that explores the concept of gamification and its application to real-life challenges. McGonigal, a renowned game designer and researcher, offers a comprehensive guide on how to live a more fulfilling and productive life by incorporating game design principles into daily life.

The book begins by introducing the idea that games have the power to change our lives by providing a sense of purpose, motivation, and engagement. McGonigal argues that the same psychological and neurological triggers that make games enjoyable can be used to overcome real-world challenges such as anxiety, depression, and stress.

McGonigal presents seven key principles of gameful living, which include setting epic wins, creating a gameful mindset, seeking out challenges, finding allies, using positive emotions, and developing a growth mindset. She provides practical examples and exercises for readers to apply these principles in their daily lives, making the book an interactive experience.

One of the most insightful aspects of the book is the concept of “epic wins,” which refers to setting ambitious goals that are meaningful and align with one’s values. McGonigal encourages readers to define their own epic wins and provides a step-by-step guide on how to achieve them. This section is particularly useful for anyone looking to make positive changes in their lives, as it provides a framework for setting and achieving meaningful goals.

Another key principle of gameful living is the idea of a “gameful mindset,” which involves approaching challenges with a positive and playful attitude. McGonigal shows how to cultivate this mindset by embracing failure, learning from mistakes, and finding the fun in difficult situations. This section is particularly helpful for anyone who struggles with perfectionism or a fear of failure.

The book also explores the importance of social support and collaboration in achieving success. McGonigal encourages readers to find “allies” who can provide encouragement, advice, and support in pursuing their epic wins. This section is particularly useful for anyone who feels isolated or disconnected from others, as it provides practical tips for building a supportive community.

One of the strengths of the book is McGonigal’s use of real-life examples and case studies to illustrate the power of gameful living. She shares stories of people who have overcome significant challenges, such as chronic illness, anxiety, and unemployment, by applying game design principles to their lives. These examples are inspiring and provide tangible evidence of the effectiveness of McGonigal’s approach.

In addition, McGonigal’s writing style is engaging, accessible, and entertaining. She uses humor, anecdotes, and relatable examples to make the book an enjoyable read, even for those who are not typically interested in games or gamification.

In summary, “SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully” is a transformative book that offers a fresh perspective on how to live a more fulfilling and productive life. McGonigal’s practical guidance, real-life examples, and engaging writing style make the book an indispensable resource for anyone looking to make positive changes in their lives. By apply…


  • The review provides a clear and concise summary of the book’s key principles and strengths.
  • The reviewer effectively uses examples and case studies to illustrate the book’s concepts and impact.
  • The review highlights the book’s accessibility and entertainment value, making it appealing to a wide range of readers.
  • The reviewer could have provided more specific examples of how the book’s principles can be applied to real-life challenges.
  • A more detailed analysis of the book’s research basis and scientific backing could have strengthened the review.


  • “SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully” by Jane McGonigal is a life-changing book that offers practical guidance on how to incorporate game design principles into daily life.
  • The book provides seven key principles of gameful living, including setting epic wins, creating a gameful mindset, and finding allies.
  • Real-life examples and case studies illustrate the effectiveness of McGonigal’s approach.
  • The book is engaging, accessible, and entertaining, making it a valuable resource for anyone looking to make positive changes in their lives.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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